This past week, we discussed space, dust, and spices, a very interesting combination of topics. (I am posting this incredibly late because my computer was protesting uploading absolutely anything, and I’ve just accepted that this is going to be late) Space is incredibly vast, and it puts into perspective how small and insignificant the presence of humanity really is.
Last week was one of my favorite lectures in this class so far. In class, we had a chance to learn about Saffron and why Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world. I actually had tried Saffron before, but I don't think I got the authentic Saffron. I did not really understand how sacred Saffron is or its health benefits. Out of curiosity, I ordered 2g of Saffron on eBay and got it shipped to me from Iran.
This week’s visit to the planetarium and investigation of alien stardust was incredibly fascinating, but the topic I found most compelling was the documentary about saffron. I actually had my first experience with a saffron-based dish at Westwood’s Saffron and Rose ice cream shop where I fell in love with the saffron pistachio ice cream.
I was not able to come to class this week, so I was unfortunately not able to visit the planetarium with the rest of the class. Since I was not able to see it, I did do some research on astronomy and art, specifically looking more into astrophotography and its history.
I greatly enjoyed our visit to the Planetarium and found it very relaxing and enlightening. It was really peaceful to be able to look up at the stars in a way that we don't very often get to, and the Star Dust meditation was pretty unique. I was intrigued by the meteorites and found some really amazing meteorite art, such as the below "Extraterrestrial gems in a large partial slide of Esquel pallasite" (with a price of $37,500!).
Like many people, I have criticized my body and the way I look. As humans, we often look in the mirror and judge ourselves for our exterior representations. Many also fear the visual effects of their aging bodies and are very attached to what happens to their bodies after they pass. Really thinking about what my body is and where it came from though, I feel more comfort and peace about these concerns.
I was so happy that the class was able to visit the planetarium on Tuesday! Despite being a 4th year, I had never visited nor even heard about the on-campus planetarium. I was pleased to find out that the planetarium offers topical and varied events every Wednesday evening at 8pm (“UCLA Planetarium” n.d.). I had a chance to read through everyone’s wonderful blog posts about the planetarium visit, star dust, and all things astronomy. Everyone had very insightful responses.
I really enjoyed the guest lecture by Professor Torres this week and our class trip to the UCLA planetarium. It’s always such a magical experience to take a moment and really appreciate our place in the universe and the vastness of what’s around us.
I enjoyed going to the planetarium with Professor Torres this week! The study of space and spatial concepts is something that’s pretty new to me, as I’ve never researched or really looked into the intersection of space and astronomy with art. Also, I was super fascinated with the technology and resources that the planetarium has.
So, I’ve decided to look into the history of otherworldly artwork: art based on astronomical studies, art made with space, and explorations of space through the lens of art.
On Friday, May 19th, I attended the webinar called Leonardo da Vinci on Visualizing the Forces of Nature: Gravity. This dialogue was between Claire Farago, Professor Emerita and frequent publisher on various da Vinci writings, and Matthew Landres, professor of modern history and Supernumerary Fellow, specifically focusing on da Vinci.
During seminar we spoke about spices and a bit about the current economy of the saffron industry. Several interesting things were mentioned in passing in the discussion, particularly that there have been crime rings and wars that centered around spices. This caught my interest and I decided to look further into these topics.
I thought it was really interesting how our lecture transitioned from contemplation on dust in our daily environments and its effect on our personal ecology, to a dive into the production of saffron and its effect on the market of spices, to a mesmerizing sound and sight experience at the Observatory with Santiago Torres. The saffron video encouraged me to think harder about the foods in our lives that seem so common that they become innocuous, but they may in fact not be what they are advertising at all.
This week we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn about space, stars, and meteorites from our guest lecturer Dr. Santiago Torres. To be honest, I don't really know that much about stars and space. I believe that when I was younger I used to be a bit more interested, but as I grew up I had become more interested in biological topics on the microscopic level in contrast to space, which is on the macroscopic level.